Date: 7th June 2008 at 3:18pm
Written by:

It is barely a month since the league season ended yet the process by which certain clubs have made clear their interest in signing particular players under contract at other clubs has reached new levels of brazenness.

It is hard not to feel sympathy with Manchester United for what they have endured surrounding Ronaldo even accepting that their own behaviour in attracting Hargreaves is not immune to criticism. Inters actions in unsettling Hleb will lead to us losing a player that just a few months ago was ‘committed` to the club.

United are the biggest club in the world yet even they can have their star player publicly approached by another club openly discussing the sort of figures they might be prepared to pay that player in wages. But if United follow through with their threat to report Calderon and vigorously pursue FIFA to take action against Real then they will be doing all football clubs a service. This is just the sort of high profile case that might effect a change and give clubs prone to this type of action serious pause for thought.

FIFA regulations are quite clear about such actions and if they had the will to act unilaterally they could certainly do so.

Their regulations state:

Article17.5 Any person subject to the FIFA Statutes and regulations (club officials, players` agents, players, etc.) who acts in a manner designed to induce a breach of contract between a professional and a club in order to facilitate the transfer of the player shall be sanctioned.

There is little doubt that Calderons actions and those of officials at other clubs affecting the players of clubs like Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea are actionable under this clause.

Stories also abound about players` agreeing terms with clubs even though there has been no prior agreement between clubs for an approach to be made. Much of it just hearsay but agreeing terms with players` agents in this case amounts to the same as an agreement directly with the player.

FIFAs regulations again seem pretty unambiguous in their resolve:
Article 18.3 A club intending to conclude a contract with a professional must inform the player`s current club in writing before entering into negotiations with him. A professional shall only be free to conclude a contract with another club if his contract with his present club has expired or is due to expire within six months. Any breach of this provision shall be subject to appropriate sanctions.

At present those clubs most blatant in their disregard for these regulations are cocking a snoop at FIFA. While the administrators stand idly by playing with ideas of introducing new regulations regarding player quotas and control of club debt the regulations they have already put in place are routinely ignored. Unless they show a determination to enforce existing regulations then further regulations are just open to ridicule whatever their individual merit.

It would be easy to take a smug partisan satisfaction at the prospect of a rival club losing one of it`s key players against their will but I feel that if ever there is a case which warrants some solidarity then this is it.